GREENVILLE, Maine — A state official ruled this week that Greenville selectmen had no reasonable grounds for denying a liquor license to Leigh Turner of the Black Frog Restaurant.
Selectmen late last year denied Turner’s liquor license renewal because of nudity and safety concerns that stemmed from one of Turner’s menu offerings. A listing for the Skinny Dip sandwich, a prime rib French dip sandwich, suggested that if a patron wanted to jump nude into Moosehead Lake the sandwich would be free.
When three patrons took the offer last year and a complaint was lodged about the nudity, the two men and a woman who made the plunge were summoned for indecent exposure and selectmen denied Turner’s license renewal. Since then, Turner has been operating on a temporary license.
In his letter to the town received Friday, Lt. David E. Bowler, hearings officer for the Department of Public Safety, Liquor Licensing, said a license may be denied by municipal officers based on repeated recorded incidents of breaches of the peace, disorderly conduct or other violations of law.
“Although there was testimony that oral complaints had been received [about the Black Frog Restaurant] during the period under review, those complaints were not recorded,” Bowler wrote in his final decision. “The department finds only one incident of record during the license period under review. Secondly, there was no evi-dence presented at the hearing that those involved in the reported incident of record or oral complaints had consumed alcohol, or had been served alcohol by the licensee and or were visibly intoxicated so as to cause a safety concern,” he said.
Turner, who had not yet received a copy of the decision Friday, was pleased. “I’m very happy to have this whole matter resolved,” he said.
While the Skinny Dip sandwich is still a menu offering, the listing now reads: “We used to offer this for free if you skinny-dipped, but the selectmen objected, so don’t blame us, proving there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
Greenville Town Manager John Simko said selectmen and police never wanted to see Turner’s license revoked. “All we wanted was for that particular promotion to end,” he said Friday. “Our only motivation was to stop that type of activity.
“They [selectmen] individually had expressed, and I shared those concerns, that we can’t afford to be losing another business in town,” Simko said. “We’re glad to see this business continue.”
The restaurant employs up to 38 seasonal employees, according to Turner, who said earlier this year he could not exist without a liquor license. At his appeal hearing, Turner said he has never tolerated misbehavior or drunkenness at his restaurant, and that fact was backed up at that meeting by Greenville Police Chief Scott MacMaster. “He does run a good, clean establishment,” MacMaster told the hearings officer.